Voting is on in India . Almost 16 million people in Mumbai and it's suburbs will be voting today. I will be one of them.
I will have to drive 10 kms to cast my vote though. My name is registered where we used to stay earlier. Partly due to bureaucratic hassle and partly due to my own apathy, I was unable to change my address on my voter's ID.
My drive will be on an obstacle course. The roads have been dug up at various places for various purposes. There will be traffic jams because the authorities could not foresee a bustling city would need wider roads. Some parts of the road have caved in because of shoddy underground trenching work carried out by some telecom company.
Once I reach my destination I will have to choose between two utter nincompoops. Both of them, I have been told are graduates. They have been continuously running each others party down ever since campaigning began. I have not heard about any development work that they are planning to carry out in their constituencies. Neither of them is the right person for this job but I guess I will vote for the lesser of the two evils.
There has been a lot of talk in the media and the intelligentsia about how India has emerged a strong, progressive and democratic nation despite corruption and non-performance. Look at our neighbours. Each one of them is in turmoil, battling large scale instability. In comparison, we have achieved so much.
The beleaguered citizens of this nation however are not really convinced. Even after 60 years, our basic agenda has not changed from bijli, paani aur makan. There have to be more progressive issues if we have to make impact globally. Our public health system needs to improve if we want to uplift our nation out of poverty. We need to protect the secular forces of our country and battle extremism. We still lag behind in literacy rates compared to the developed countries.
However, our right to vote has certainly emerged as a power tool this election. 70% of the country's population is less than 35 years. So the youth icons are doing their best to motivate the young and the restless to shake off their apathy and report to the polling booths ASAP. Our MPs have the power to make our lives better and we have the power to send the right candidate to the right place seems to be the motto.
So I will be battling traffic and potholes to reach my polling booth. I will study the profile of the candidates and make an informed choice. I know I do not have much of an option. I know I am only one in a billion. I know I may or may not make much of a difference. But somehow, in spite of many challenges, I am optimistic about my future in my country. I am a citizen of a democratic nation and I am proud of it.